Illinois Zeta image

Illinois Zeta

University of Illinois

Founding date: 10/26/1895

Installing Officers:
Grand President Grace Lass Sisson, Illinois Delta and Jessie Davidson, Illinois Delta

Philanthropic Events:
Pi Phi Sugar High, ArrowGames, Pi Burger Phri, Pi Beta Spike and Lemonade for Literacy

Installation of Illinois Zeta

The chapter was installed on October 26, 1895. Initiation took place at the home of Nellie Lapham Swigart, Illinois Beta, on South Neil Street. Following initiation, an elegant banquet was given by Mrs. Swigart. The house was decorated in wine and silver blue, and with wine carnations. After the banquet, the members held their first Cookie Shine. The charter members were Amelia Darling Alpiner (Stern), Edith Marie Weaver (Gilhulely), Blanche C. Lindsay (Wood), Martha Vivian Monier (Morissy), Laura E. Busey (Fulton), Nellie Besore (Sears), Edith M. Yoemans, Anne B. Montgomery (Bahnsen) and Lelia White. The charter members are memorialized in the Vabelman Award given out each year. The name of the award was created from the first letters of the names of the charter members.

Living at Illinois Zeta

The Illinois Zeta Chapter house can be home to 63 collegiate members. Recently, house interior was redone, which makes the prospect of living in exciting for many. The chapter has the largest house parking lot of any sorority on campus. In addition to the main house, there is also an annex house lovingly referred to as “Little Pi Phi,” where members can live in singles or doubles in a more intimate atmosphere.

The Illinois Zeta Chapter house is one of the oldest on campus. It has many beautiful antique features, including the stained glass windows, a large gold mirror and a watercolor painting in the front television room. There are stained glass windows lining the front facing doors of the house, some dating back to 1895, while others have been redone in the past and are marked with their year (1995). The chapter house’s stained glass windows incorporate the crest of Pi Beta Phi as well as various colors and shapes. The gigantic, gold-painted mirror sits on the landing to greet members as they enter up the stairs. The mirror runs from the carpet to the ceiling, nearly nine feet tall and four feet wide. The water color painting of the chapter house is a lovely feature and was donated by the 1989 pledge class.

Panhellenic Groups on Campus

Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Epsilon Phi, Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Phi, Alpha Xi Delta, Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Delta Gamma, Delta Zeta, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Delta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Pi Beta Phi, Phi Mu, Phi Sigma Sigma and Sigma Delta Tau

Philanthropic Service

The Illinois Zeta chapter holds a series of philanthropy events throughout the school year. Money is raised for Read > Lead > Achieve® through Pi Phi Sugar High, an ice cream social in the fall, and ArrowGames, a flag football tournament for fraternity men. Pi Burger Phri, a cookout, and Pi Beta Spike, a sand volleyball tournament, take place at the house in the spring. The chapter also coordinates Lemonade for Literacy, a lemonade stand outside their house, whenever weather permits.

Notable Alumnae

  • Robin Baumgarten, news anchor from WGN Morning News in Chicago
  • Amelia Alpiner Stern, one of the first Jewish students to attend the University of Illinois and founder of the Mom's Day/Weekend tradition at Illinois Zeta
  • Harriet Haycock Brown, author who wrote “Ocean to Ocean”

Grand Council Members from Illinois Zeta

  • Alison Veit Heafitz
  • Amelia Alpiner Stern
  • Barbara Sands Olsen
  • Lois Franklin Stoolman
  • Fay Martin Gross